the film
Commentaries and editorials

Argument Not to Breach Dams
Contains Misleading Facts

by Don Chapman
Idaho Statesman, November 18, 2006

Judi Danielson offered an Reader's View opinion Nov. 9, "Breaching dams will not save salmon runs." She used erroneous information in several cases. She claims, "There is a fair amount of anecdotal unscientific rhetoric circulating among some special-interest groups, but that cannot be the basis for a major decision like breaching the dams."

Then she contributes to the anecdotal unscientific rhetoric:

"Of the average 1,200-day lifespan of the salmon, only about 100 to 150 days are spent in freshwater in Idaho, Oregon and Washington." After several years of service on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, she should know better. Idaho spring/summer chinook spend roughly 210 days as embryos and hatchlings in the gravel, then another 330 to 360 days as fry and pre-smolts before they move seaward. Only chum salmon, found in the lower Columbia River, spend as little time as 100 to 150 days.

"... in this decade, we've had runs larger than any since recording began in 1938." She conveniently fails to note that the runs of spring chinook salmon and steelhead returning to Idaho consist of 80 percent hatchery fish. Wild runs to Snake River tributaries in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington are severely depressed from the period before the lower Snake dams were completed. Ms. Danielson knows this, but glosses over it. Perhaps she wants the public to believe, with her special interests, that a fish is a fish is a fish, and that several dozen identified genetically distinct wild runs are just like hatchery fish.

"Per-dam survival of juvenile spring chinook now averages around 98 percent." A news release dated July 13, 2006, from Danielson's own council, summarizes NMFS data presented to the council. It shows survival in 2006 from Lower Granite Dam to Bonneville Dam as 58 percent for spring chinook, an average survival per project of about 92 percent, not 98 percent. Survival for steelhead has been much lower; 37 percent from Lower Granite to Bonneville Dam, or about 87 percent per project. These figures do not encompass all dam-related losses, either.

Ms. Danielson and I agree on only one item: Anecdotal unscientific rhetoric from special-interest groups does not help inform the public. She might want to take another look at her own misleading statements.

Related Sites:
Adult Salmon Return Comparison - compares current year to last year and the ten year average.
Adult Salmon Passage at Lower Granite Dam Yearly Adult Counts 1975 - Present

Don Chapman lives in McCall.
Argument Not to Breach Dams Contains Misleading Facts
Idaho Statesman, November 18, 2006

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